Charley’s ride across America 17. Day in the life and I chose to be here


Day 30 feb 26. 45 miles 5:00. 82 degrees, hot wind, quite hilly. End in Navasota TX

Day 31 feb 27. 55 miles 6:30 75 degrees, some wind, hilly, tired legs, end in Round Top TX

Total miles finished 1332. 46% finished

Dear friends and family,

I spent some time today thinking about what I think about while riding.

I was completely packed by 0900 my target stop time, but instead of pushing the bike out the door, I sat and had another cup of ginger tea. I wasn’t quite ready to head out. I knew I had a 55 mile day ahead of me and I haven’t had a rest day since Baton Rouge. So just five minutes to rest before my start.

Leaving the hotel is often stressful, as hotels are alongside freeways, which means lots of traffic. Today was no different, I had to pull out into a freeway access lane, then claim my space in a traffic lane to turn. Riding through town ( Navasota) the road was four lanes, no sidewalk or shoulder, so I rode in the middle of the right lane. I could feel the anger of some of the drivers by how quickly after they passed they pulled in front of me. 

Leaving town the road turned to two lanes with a wide shoulder, phew! 

I always note the first mile as it establishes some rhythm for the day. 

What am I experiencing? Oh, a coolish wind in my face, only 70 degrees to start, overcast skies.

What about my body? Legs feel really weak, but maybe the blood hasn’t fully filled those muscles yet. Can I recover from yesterday’s hard day with just a nights sleep?

What will today bring?

More wind from ahead? too much hot sun? Hills? No shoulders to ride on? Dogs?

First five miles sorts that out. I do the math to calculate the first ten percent, now I’m into this days trip.

Flat only lasted for that first five, now it’s hilly. Yikes, my legs don’t seem eager to push up this long hill.

In this case, tired riding is a little like sailing: in sailing the best time to reef the sails is when you first think of it. There’s not a sailor who hasn’t at some points wish they reefed earlier, before things got too lively.

In bicycling on tired legs, it’s downshifting as soon as you think about it, not after the legs will no longer turn that crank in a higher gear. Must preserve the muscle power you have.

Lots of hills, lots of opportunities to downshift. Is that my lowest gear? Damn, it is. I’m only going 5  mph up this hill, so at this rate, I’ll get in after dark. Made up for on the long downhill at 25 mph.

Lots of calculations of speed and time and then wow, I can look around because I have a huge CLEAN shoulder to ride on. It’s very scenic. As I wrote that word “scenic” I thought about how it means different things to different people. Leaving New Orleans, the first ten miles along SCENIC PARKWAY were through the Exxon refinery. Maybe scenic to a petroleum engineer.

For me, I enjoyed the big ranches, all the grazing horses and cattle, and cruising through the little towns on my way. Towns near here seem to be revitalized as reminiscent of what they were once and that seems popular. 

Yesterday I rode through a section of the Sam Houston National Forest on a dirt road with no one around for hours. Today half my ride was on country roads with almost no vehicles. In fact, I’d be riding along the middle of the road with the wind through my helmet ( or the dog horn effect) I wouldn’t even hear the odd vehicle wanting to pass me. Five vehicles over 20 miles. Yes, it was hot and hilly, but I was like a youngster out for a spring ride in the country. So far Texas has good roads and lots of shoulders. It’s also very green, which surprised me some.

What I learned today about long distance riding:

I thought that I’d get ( be there by now) to where the effort of riding was pretty easy and didn’t have to think much about the effort. What I find is that is only slightly true, but now I know that the discomfort of pushing those pedals only gets to a certain level ( short of pain), but that I can do it for hours and those legs continue to work.

As I feel that discomfort I remind myself that I chose to be here. Here’s where I got that phrase:

A couple of you have remarked that you sit back with a cup of coffee in a cozy spot to see what I am up to.

I was doing that very thing myself not that long ago. Mine went like this:

At dinner one night early in our time in Port Townsend Nancy and I were at the Fountain Cafe, a local favorite. The guy washing dishes came out of the back and approached our table.

He said “ Hey, I’m Mick. I heard you recently sailed into Port Townsend, so I thought I’d say hello (small town-word spreads). I came here because I’m going to get a boat built to row around the world.”

“Uh, huh” was about all I could answer to that statement.

Then he disappeared back to his dishwashing.

“Pass the salt, please” and we finished our dinner and went home.

I was fascinated with what he said, so tracked him down and we soon became friends. He needed accounting help for his endeavor and also a land person to monitor his rowing progress. I took on both roles.

It took a couple of years to get the boat built and ready, but then launched from California on his way around the freaking world!

I am the land based contact. So early one day I get up, head downstairs in my robe and slippers to get my first cup of coffee. Once I’ve got the full cup I go into my home office, fire up the computer to see what the word is from Mick.He sends me a satellite email every day to check in.

“Things are a little crazy here dude. Yesterday gave me big waves, so I locked myself in my little coffin of a cabin and braced myself as the boat rolled. It was a quick storm, but the tight cabin got me all sweaty so I checked for sharks and dove over to refresh myself. In the water I immediately was wrapped up by by some sort of sea snake that I couldn’t push away. I eventually cleared myself of it and crawled safely back onboard. Once I caught my breath to think about it, I realized the snake was my raw water intake hose for my watermaker that I leave in the water. Jeez, what a couple of months alone can do!”

“I still have to remember to read my sign” he said. “ I chose to be here”

He had placed this sign in big bold letters in front of his face to see every day while rowing.

I shuffled  into the kitchen for another cup before it was time to get dressed and start my workday.

I “ Chose to be here” just like Mick did. Different scale, but still a choice.

Thanks for all the support.

Sending love,


Here’s some info on Mick’s awesome trip


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